‘Son of Man’ updates the story of Jesus to modern South Africa, recalling the same opera company’s Xsosa language version of Bizet’s ‘Carmen’. Pasolini’s ‘Gospel’ leaps to mind: a vivid style combining the stark and the lyrical, a devoutness fierce not sentimental, a landscape whose weary, sun-baked timelessness makes it into a character in the drama… and above all, the faces.
Modern parallels are implied – war-torn Judea is taken over by ‘coalition forces’ – but details are irrelevant. Jesus (Andile Kosi) is a political figure, videoed by a spying Judas, making his mixed bag of disciples give up their guns, tempted by a black leather-clad Satan (Andries Mbali). Hypnotic visuals, eloquent – but never over-used – music and gritty performances make this a riveting, moving experience.